A DELIGHTFUL GARDEN
“Help! The deer are eating everything in sight!” Fear not, there are some plants that deer do tend to stay away from. You’ll still be able to enjoy a beautiful garden in the country. I will mention there are plants commonly called deer resistant, however, nothing is a 100% deer proof. You may find in your yard deer leave alone Hellebores but across town have a friend that had theirs munched on!
If you plant a rainbow of perennials your landscape will be beautiful and you’ll be attracting pollinators. Create this affect in your yard by introducing Achillea (Yarrow) -Yellow variety, Digitalis (Foxglove), Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susan), Lupines and some Salvias. A beautiful purple flowering Lithodora over a rock ledge would also make a nice addition. These plants have beautiful, vibrant color and long-lasting color.
For a more substantial center piece and to hear the flurry of bees in the springtime a Ceanothus is for you! It has gorgeous purple blooms- just be sure to inspect it occasionally to make sure those limbs are solid. ‘Victoria’ Ceanothus is a good hardy variety for our area. Many people in the Northwest are also fond of the beautiful blooms of azalea and rhododendrons. There is a huge selection of sizes and colors. Rhododendrons are very versatile- there are many kinds that can be planted in full sun, or shade.
Chances are you have a few shady areas so try some Pulmonaria (Lungwort) and it will give you a little bit of bloom in the early spring. In order to add in some texture mix in a few ferns like Athyrium niponicum (Japanese Painted fern) or an Matteuccia struthiopteris (Ostrich fern) and you’ll have a nice layout.
For a great drought tolerant and sun loving groundcover, you can use Rubus calycinoides (Creeping Raspberry) and the deer can literally walk across it and it doesn’t harm it! It’s also fast growing and spreading so only plant it where you want it for a long time. Deer also tend to stay away from strong scented plants; a few good options are Thyme, Rosemary, Lavender, Euphorbia (spurge), and Mints.
Where ever you live there are options, so don’t be deterred…you just might need to do a little trial and error!
Written by Karen Smith, Lane Forest Products Plant Specialist